One thing that strikes this listener from the first selection, "Can't Help Yourself," is his raspy, cleanly articulated, rapid-fire vocals. He commands our attention singing about going of the war and then returning home to find promises made before he served were empty; that jobs being exported overseas labor overseas with unions being blamed; and there being too little money for our war casualties today. Similarly powerful songs include "19¢ a Day," set against a crisp John Lee Hooker boogie groove, and the stark "Letters From Home," (opening with terrific guitar from Vitarello) where O'Leary sings of being terrified and lonesome in a dirty hole a thousand miles from home with desert winds chilling him to the bone in the god-forsaken combat zone. His vocal is compelling (his vocal dynamics is exemplary) and the backing is terrific. "One More Saturday Night," is a superb shuffle as he displays his formidable harmonica chops, on a song about about making it through the week, and needing one more Saturday night to let loose. The spirited "Harvest Time" has a New Orleans second-line groove with John Mooney adding slide guitar.
There is so much to like about Chris O'Leary and with excellent songs, and first-rate backing from his band and guests, O'Leary's "Gonna Die Trying" is sensational.
I received my review copy from the label. Here is he performing "Letters From Home."